â€œMy wife and I have known each other for eight years. We were friends at first and then we fell in love. Our families had to agree to the wedding, so we waited for each other for four years without kissing or holding hands until we finally got married. Five months ago, our little daughter Shames was born. Her name means sun.
I made good money as a barber back home, but my true passion is singing. My wife has always wanted me to be happy and she likes my voice, so she saved money to support me to build up a singing career. Whenever there was a wedding or a big party, I would perform for the guests. More and more people liked my singing and I even had four music videos, which were broadcast on TV. It was my wife who made all that possible.
But the regime in Iraq has never allowed people to live normal and free lives. Singing and wearing long hair is forbidden, and I did both. One evening I did a live concert whensuddenly, a group of people forced their way inside the concert hall and shot at the stage. An old lady took my hand, pulled me away, and hid me in her house.
A couple of days later, I went back home to my wife. There, I received an envelope with one bullet inside. I knew what that meant: â€œEither you leave or you die, but you are going to stop singing either way.â€
We decided that I had to flee the country and try to bring my wife and my daughter to me afterwards. I had to leave my family behind and abandon my barbershop. On my journey from Iraq to Austria, I couldnâ€™t call my wife for 17 days. When I was finally able to let her know that I was okay, she barely said anything on the phone. I only heard cries and screams of relief and happiness.â€